I Have a Board Game Idea – Now What? Part 34: To Kickstart or not to Kickstart

Welcome back! I want to apologize for it being so long since my last post. Between vacation, a family camping trip, and just life it has been a challenge to find time to remember to get a post written.

I was reading a blog post on the Stonemaier website a few days ago entitled “7 Insights that First-Time Kickstarter Creators May Not Know” in which Jamey recaps some of the questions that were asked at the Gatekeeper Games’ Kickstarter panel at this year’s Gen Con. One of the questions asked was “What’s the difference between wanting to make my game versus wanting to be in the publishing biz myself?” This got me thinking about my choice to use Kickstarter and lead me to today’s topic: to kickstart or not to kickstart.

Each creator is likely to have a different answer as to why they chose to use Kickstarter or not. In fact, Jamey covers the topic on his blog as well. For me it came down to the following three reasons:

  1. I wanted complete control over the game that was made
  2. I didn’t have any other realistic option for obtaining the necessary funds
  3. I wanted to learn more about the whole process of designing and manufacturing a board game

Reason 1: I wanted complete control

When I started on the journey of designing a board game, I quickly decided that I wanted to design a cooperative board game about hacking. I was concerned that if I signed with a publisher that they would want to change the game more than I was comfortable with.

Reason 2: I don’t have any other realistic way to get the money

Designing and manufacturing a board game takes a significant amount of funding. Some designers who decide to self publish use funds they had already saved, find an investor, or borrow the money from others. Others, like myself, take advantage of crowdfunding and use either Kickstarter or one of the other crowdfunding options. This was really the only realistic self publishing option for me.

Reason 3: I wanted to learn more about the entire process

There is a lot more to the process of getting a board game to store shelves then just designing the game. The game needs to be play tested, artists and graphic designers need to be hired, the game needs to be manufactured and then shipped to retailers/customers just to name a few. Jamey has written an interesting article about the many hats that Kickstarter creators wear. While a lot of work, I really find all of this really interesting and wanted to learn more about it.

Why Kickstarter might not be for you

Just like for why designers choose to self publish, there are many reasons why they choose to pitch their game to a publisher. The biggest reason I’ve heard is that they are only interested in the game design process, and they don’t want to worry about all of the extra work that goes into creating a game. Some designers don’t have the free time needed to run a crowdfunding campaign, or they are ultimately only concerned about making money from their games.

The decision of whether or not to use Kickstarter is one that each designer needs to make for themselves. It simply comes down to the fact that Kickstarter isn’t for everyone. I would love to hear about your reasons for using, or not using, Kickstarter in the comments below. Until next time, happy designing.

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